HSC Ancient History memorising sources

It can be overwhelming trying to memorise ALL of your HSC Ancient History sources…

With four extensive periods of history to cover in detail, you’re not the only one to ask how to memorise HSC Ancient History Sources.

But there is hope.

Believe it or not, thousands of students have managed to pull through the HSC with excellent marks.

While everyone works differently, we’ve compiled the most-commonly used strategies for success into a single coherent guide to help you memorise your HSC Ancient History sources.

Let’s dive in!

Step 1: Write Notes
Step 2: Create a Source Table
Step 3: Create a List of Ancient Terms
Step 4: Create Mnemonic Devices
Step 5: Use Alternative Research Methods

Step 1: Write Notes

Wait! Before you run off in fear, let me say my piece: the process of note-writing is necessary for learning the vast amount of content in HSC Ancient History, but it does not have to be painful.

Instead of me boring you with an explanation of why notes are useful, let me give you a step-by-step approach of how to write notes:

Step 1: Reference Material

Gather your reference material/s: this could be a textbook, a set of handouts, a book etc.

Anything that you think will contain relevant knowledge to the syllabus.

Step 2: Syllabus

Use your reference materials to write notes based strictly on the syllabus dot-points.

Use each dot-point as its own heading and comb through your gathered materials for any information relating to the dot-point and strip it down to the essential information.

You want to include enough to be able to prompt your memory when you revise the notes later on.

You don’t want to include every single bit of information under the sun – your notes will simply get too long to be able to efficiently study.

Step 3: Sources

Support your notes with sources.

Ancient History requires sources and evidence, so make sure you support most of your notes with quotes from ancient/modern historians as well as archaeological sources like artefacts, architecture, art etc.

This third step will be elaborated on in the next section.

For more information on how to write effective notes for HSC Ancient history, check out this article here, and on keeping them updated, read this one!

Step 2: Create a Source Table

As I mentioned before, supporting your notes with sources is a must.

One of the most effective ways to ensure you’ve got enough sources to back up your information is to create a source table.

This method is useful because it allows you to cross-reference your information with sources in an easy-to-read table which supports your ability to recall both pieces of information simultaneously.

So what is a source table?
InformationSource
The climate of Pompeii featured hot dry summers and mild wet winters Pliny the Elder: “climate so mild”
There was a presence of domesticated animal usage in both Pompeii and Herculaneum Skeletal remains of a horse found at Herculaneum
Dog and mule remains found in a Pompeii pistrina
Women in both Pompeii and Herculaneum had quite a bit of economic freedom Elaine Fantham: “Women could own property, do business, pay for construction, hold honorific and cultic office, and go about in public”

Step 3: Create a List of Ancient Terms

Students often trip up on tricky-to-remember and even trickier-to-pronounce ancient terms.

Especially when they’re similar in context and spelling, like impluvium and compluvium or taberna and torcularia.

So what’s a simple way to help wrap you head around these tricky terms? Another table!
TermDefinition
CubiculumSmall rooms that may have functioned as bedrooms
CompluviumThe opening of the roof in an atrium
CaldariumHot bath
PeristyleAn internal garden surrounded by a colonnade
ForumA large open space used as the commercial, religious and political hub of Pompeii and Herculaneum
CampaniaThe area surrounding Pompeii and Herculaneum

Step 4: Create Mnemonic Devices

Create mnemonic devices/acrostic poems/songs to memorise tricky or otherwise boring/dry information.

They can be extremely helpful for remembering important dates, events, and personalities.

For example, for remembering the order of the Battles of 480-479 BC in Ancient Greece (Thermopylae – Artemisium – Salamis – Plataea – Mycale – Sestos), I used the acronym TAS PMS.

Step 5: Use Alternative Research Methods

The simple fact is this: not everyone learns the same way.

Some people find it easier to learn content when taught in-class, whilst others may find it easier to learn via video or audio or reading.

If some traditional methods of research and study don’t appeal to you (and you’ve tried all of the above), here are two alternative forms that you can look into:

1. Scholarly Articles:

While this one may seem dry to some, it is certainly effective.

Reading research papers on Pompeii and Herculaneum by Wallace-Hadrill or Estelle Lazer is often a lot more useful than just seeing their names in class and wondering what it is they’re actually talking about.

However, this method is probably the most difficult as it requires you to engage with articles which have been published by university graduates which feature dense information.

It is not recommended for everyone, but it is one of the safest alternative methods.

2. Video

This one is tricky.

While there are a lot of useful videos on the internet containing information about Pompeii, Herculaneum, Rome, Greece, Egypt and all manner of ancient history, it may not be relevant to the HSC Ancient History syllabus (and it may not be of a high quality).

This is where your discretion becomes vital.

Search the internet for your topics and see what you can find.

While this is the most temperamental of the alternative research methods, video is often a lot more engaging than text for many students.

Some good starter videos on YouTube include: BBC Documentaries, Crash Course Ancient History, and some videos with ‘HSC’ in them (yes, really).

If you’re completely lost, search ‘HSC [your topic]’ and see what you can find. You never know what you might stumble upon.

Looking for extra help with HSC Ancient History?

We pride ourselves on our inspirational HSC Ancient History coaches and mentors!

We offer tutoring and mentoring for Years K-12 in a variety of subjects, with personalised lessons conducted one-on-one in your home or at our state of the art campus in Hornsby!

To find out more and get started with an inspirational tutor and mentor get in touch today!

Give us a ring on 1300 267 888, email us at [email protected] or check us out on Facebook!


Jack Theodoulou studies a double degree of Education/Arts majoring in English at the University of Sydney. Previously an instructor of classical guitar, Jack began coaching at Art of Smart in 2015. In his spare time, Jack often finds himself entangled in a love-hate relationship with creative writing and an occasional obsession with video games.